I haven’t heard anything for so long, and yet, there you are again, coming into my life but this time only through conversation. It seems that my angry 4th grader only grew into an even angrier 6th grader. Someone whom the system failed and who is now set to be expelled from not just another school, but an entire district. The news is given to me nonchalantly like it is no big deal but just another update on an old student but they don’t know. They don’t know how I worry about you still, how I carry your smile with me, how I reflect on what I could have done better. My heart sinks, and the heaviness of this job gets to me.
My principal asks what happened to you back then? We failed, that’s what happened. We tried to get you help but the red tape was too much, it was too ever present, looming over us at every step of the way. Those people just wouldn’t listen when we told them that we felt that this was it; this was your moment to choose your path, and we were so worried with the direction you were headed. So we just focused on getting you through that day, rather than giving you the chance of getting better, of getting help. And now you pay the price for our failure. You are the one who even an alternative school has failed because all of that anger inside of you just keeps on coming.
So I try to reach out, to help from afar, but there doesn’t seem to be anything I can do. Except I can’t just give up like others. I can’t just let it go. You may not see what I see in you, or even understand why this crazy white teacher keeps fighting for you, but you matter. Demons like those you battle are not meant for children. Kids your age should not be worried about the burdens you carry, real or perceived. You should be playing soccer, or hanging with your friends, by now even checking out girls. And instead the anger has fused into your spine as you carry yourself through those hallways, glancing at everyone as you prepare to fight. The world is not against you, even if it seems that way.
So Arnold, I know I can’t save you, but I say it again; I am here if you need me. I am here to listen, to vent with, even if I will never understand why you are so angry. Even if I will never live your life. You are not alone, you are not a failure, you are kind, you have the greatest heart of any child I know, you matter. Don’t let the world take that away from you.
|From i can read|